Arsenal set to miss out on luxury signing M’Baye Niang

Arsenal set to miss out on luxury signing M’Baye Niang

Arsenal are set to lose out on M’Baye Niang to AC Milan

Take Robin van Persie out of the equation, and it’s been a very good summer so far for Arsenal.

Top targets Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud have been acquired, while deals are at an advanced stage for midfield cavalry in the form of Santi Cazorla and Nuri Şahin.

But Arsène Wenger looks set to miss out on his luxury signing – 17-year-old French sensation M’Baye Niang – after failing to agree a deal with Caen.

Wenger was excited and then impressed after bringing Niang to North London for a trial last month, and has been keen to find an agreement to buy the young striker.

However, his opening £5 million bid was rejected a fortnight ago, and despite talks re-opening last week, the two clubs are still struggling to agree terms.

Arsenal’s first offer was a package worth £5 million, which was snubbed with Caen valuing the player at £7 million. Wenger has indicated he is happy to move closer to that figure, but is only willing to put £2 million up front, with the rest to following in bonuses.

Caen are refusing to budge, and want all the money up front, despite Niang telling them he is desperate to move to Arsenal.

Yet that is now looking an unlikely proposition, with AC Milan close to striking a deal. Talks have progressed with Caen over the weekend, and the two clubs are confident a transfer will go through.

The news will come as a disappointment for Wenger, who had been keen to land Niang, but believes he requires work to reach his potential, and is unwilling to gamble a huge amount of up front.

Arsenal like M’Baye Niang but face a battle to sign him

Arsenal like M’Baye Niang but face a battle to sign him

Arsenal want to sign M’Baye Niang

He’s young, French and relatively unknown – if M’Baye Niang is not a classic Arsenal signing, he is at least a stereotypical one.

A 17-year-old striker from French minnows Caen, Niang has not only been talked about as a new Thierry Henry, but also a candidate to be the next iconic Les Bleus number nine.

They’re big predictions, for a big prospect. I first stumbled upon Niang midway through last year, when, as a burly 16-year-old, he played 7 times for the Caen first-team, and scored three goals. The club have produced the likes of William Gallas, Jérôme Rothen and Mathieu Bodmer in recent years, but Niang is something else.

He had offers to go last summer, but eventually stayed. A full season of first-team football was the reward, and while Niang played more games, he scored just twice, as Caen were relegated to Ligue 2.

It was quite an experience, but one that did little damage to his stock. Arsène Wenger was recommended Niang by France scout Gilles Grimandi last month, and soon used his vast contacts and influence to sort out a trial.

Niang returned to his homeland over the weekend, having left an impression.

He badly lacked fitness, but Wenger was impressed with his attitude and application, and earlier this week, a bid worth up to £5 million was lodged with Caen. It was rushed, as news spread that the player was available for trial. Manchester City, Tottenham and now AC Milan have all made enquiries over a deal.

Caen have since turned down Arsenal’s bid for Niang, and they are yet to return with a second offer. Arsenal like the player, and believe in his potential, but don’t want to spend a fortune on somebody they believe will require a lot of work to be ready for the first-team.

Niang is tall, strong and powerful, and be adapted into pretty much any type of striker. A target man, a poacher – even a number 10, but question marks over his concentration and finishing still need to be answered.

I covered Niang in The Independent in November, and believe he would be a sound acquisition for Arsenal. The question is, will Wenger go against the betting and stump up extra for the player, or risk losing him to a top four rival? The ball is in his court.